Number 9? Who needs it when you've got this potent trio of 100 percent pure bottled-up passion.


Nobody believes in magic anymore, at least not since the Deep Purple comeback tour. Instead of dreaming the impossible dream, we settle for special effects and a quart-size soft drink. Ritual and romance have been replaced by peel-off postage and call waiting. I guess that's the price of progress.

Love potions, for example, are not exactly a hot commodity these days. They seem to have gone the way of the fire-breathing dragon, the enchanted sword, and the Hula Hoop - all of which were magical in their day but have somehow slipped down the great drain of history. In our cynical era, if you're having problems in the romance department, you're probably more likely to phone the attorney who drafted your prenup than to pay a visit to your local sorcerer. In fact, I checked the Yellow Pages for witch doctors, and there were no listings (and that was the San Francisco edition).

If you look closely, you can still find a few holdovers from the times when the surest way to a loved one's heart was by some secret concoction. Liqueurs are the modern-day descendants of the various remedies and potions made by the herbalists of yore. The manufacturers of these three liqueurs aren't making any claims that their products will have your would-be sweetheart beating a path to your door, but considering Valentine's Day is at hand, I figure they're worth a try.     

CARAVELLA LIMONCELLO ORIGINALE D'ITALIA ($15)
The Italians are no slackers when it comes to liqueurs. Limoncello, a specialty of the Amalfi Coast, was originally produced at home in Southern Italy by soaking peels from the delicious Amalfi lemons in neutral grain spirits and adding sugar. The resulting beverage, served well-chilled, helped take the heat off warm evenings, and to boot, the lemons were highly valued and touted to have potent curative properties.

Limoncello is still amazingly popular in its homeland and accounts for about a third of the total liqueur consumed in Italy. This bottled version is produced by an important Milanese firm from a family recipe dating back to 1898. It has a bright, citrusy flavor, but is also quite sweet. Put a splash in your martini before shaking or stirring. Also tastes great served neat and ice cold from a chilled cordial glass.